Who is GOD in Buddhism?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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dragonwarrior
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Who is GOD in Buddhism?

Post by dragonwarrior » Tue Jun 23, 2009 1:12 pm

Hi guys, I've just graduated from a Christian high school. In my school, there are 15% of Buddhist students. All of the students must learn the religion lesson for 3 years, which in the end, we had to do the final test. In that test, the teacher asked me: Do you fear of God?
That was a tricky question for me, because I don't believe in God. It's sad to say, but the teacher also mocked Buddhism, when I said Buddhism doesn't teach to fear of God. Am I wrong? So based on my answer, I might got a bad score. :cry: Sometimes I could hardly explain what is 'God' in Buddhism to my friends. And actually, I don't even know whether we have a God. What is the concept of God in Theravadin? So, please explain to me. :thanks:

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kc2dpt
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Re: Who is GOD in Buddhism?

Post by kc2dpt » Tue Jun 23, 2009 2:29 pm

Winny wrote:Hi guys, I've just graduated from a Christian high school. In my school, there are 15% of Buddhist students. All of the students must learn the religion lesson for 3 years, which in the end, we had to do the final test. In that test, the teacher asked me: Do you fear of God?
That was a tricky question for me, because I don't believe in God. It's sad to say, but the teacher also mocked Buddhism, when I said Buddhism doesn't teach to fear of God. Am I wrong? So based on my answer, I might got a bad score. :cry: Sometimes I could hardly explain what is 'God' in Buddhism to my friends. And actually, I don't even know whether we have a God. What is the concept of God in Theravadin? So, please explain to me. :thanks:
BUddhism teaches that in addition to the human realm and the animal realm there are also other realms. For example there are heaven realms and hell realms. The beings that live in the heaven realms are called devas and we might translate that as "angels" or "gods". These are beings that enjoy great pleasure, kind of like some Christians believe about their heaven. Also, some of these heaven beings are very powerful, kind of like Christian angels or like Greek gods. Buddhism differs from other religions in teaching that while heavenly beings may live for hundreds, thousands, or even millions of years, they are still mortal and will eventually die and be reborn.

There is a scripture in which the Buddha speaks of a deva who mistakenly believes he created the universe. It seems to me therefore that the Buddhist belief regarding the Christian God is that god is a deluded deva who will eventually die and be reborn.

It seems odd to me to ask on a test "Do you fear God?" If you don't then you don't. If the school accepts non-Christians then there can't be a right or wrong answer to such a question. If the question was "Does a Christian fear God?" then you could demonstrate that you learned what they taught you by answering "yes".
- Peter

Be heedful and you will accomplish your goal.

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Re: Who is GOD in Buddhism?

Post by karuna_murti » Tue Jun 23, 2009 2:31 pm

There are gods, but they are also subject to death.
If you mean god as prima causa, the single cause of all being, then there is no such thing.
Theravadin have Brahma Baka though, which has wrong view that he is the single cause of other beings. Brahma Baka himself actually is not eternal, and at some point will die too.

Edit.
Ah, I just notice that you come from Indonesia. Don't confuse god with Udana VIII 3 which often told in Indonesia. Udana VIII 3 explain about Nibanna. In our country, the requirement for a religion is have a god. And at some point our elder make God = Nibanna so Buddhism can be accepted legally. Suffice to say that Ketuhanan Yang Maha Esa (One God) in Buddhism doesn't mean a personal god.

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Re: Who is GOD in Buddhism?

Post by Jechbi » Tue Jun 23, 2009 3:17 pm

Winny wrote:What is the concept of God in Theravadin?
Take a look at this:
Susan Elbaum Jootla wrote:The Buddha explains that when our world system disintegrates, as it regularly does after extremely long periods of time, the lower sixteen planes are all destroyed. Beings disappear from all planes below the seventeenth, the plane of the Abhassara gods. Whatever beings cannot be born on the seventeenth or a higher brahma plane then must take birth on the lower planes in other remote world systems.

Eventually the world starts to re-form. Then a solitary being passes away from the Abhassara plane and takes rebirth on the plane of Maha Brahma. A palace created by his kamma awaits him there: "There he dwells, mind-made, feeding on rapture, self-luminous, moving through the air, abiding in glory. And he continues thus for a long, long time." After ages pass, he becomes lonely and longs for other beings to join him. It just so happens that shortly after the brahma starts craving for company, other beings from the Abhassara plane, who have exhausted their lifespans there, pass away and are reborn in the palace of Brahma, in companionship with him.

Because these beings seemed to arise in accordance with the first brahma's wish, he becomes convinced that he is the almighty God: "I am the Great Brahma, the Vanquisher... the Lord, the Maker and Creator, the Supreme Being." The other brahmas, seeing that he was already present when they took birth in his world, accept his claim and revere him as their creator.

Eventually this misconception of a Creator God spreads to the human plane. One of the other brahmas passes away and is reborn here. He develops concentration and learns to recollect his previous life with Maha Brahma, but none of his lives before that. Recollecting that existence he recalls that Maha Brahma was considered the "father of all that are and are to be... permanent, stable, eternal." As he is unable to remember further back, he believes this to be absolute truth and propounds a theistic doctrine of an omnipotent Creator God.
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Re: Who is GOD in Buddhism?

Post by genkaku » Tue Jun 23, 2009 3:30 pm

As far as I have been able to figure out, Buddhism does not teach that there is something or someone "else." If there is something or someone else, that is not Buddhism.

But this position is not just a matter of belief. Belief -- however useful it may be as a starting point -- implies by its nature that there is something or someone else. Because Buddhism does not teach that there is something else, it recommends various practices -- meditation among them -- that will allow the student to actualize beyond doubt what may be spoken with the lips or written on an Internet bulletin board page.

Just my two cents.

Best wishes.

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Re: Who is GOD in Buddhism?

Post by clw_uk » Tue Jun 23, 2009 4:32 pm

Hey


I was supposed to be taking a break from Dhammawheel but i had a quick glance today and seen this topic which relates to something i had just listened to which might be of interest


its a talk by Stephen Batchelor about Buddha, God and buddhanature

Really worth a listen

http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/169/?p=1&q=" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

The talk itself is just called "god and buddhanature"

Metta
Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken

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cooran
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Re: Who is GOD in Buddhism?

Post by cooran » Tue Jun 23, 2009 8:24 pm

Jechbi wrote:
Winny wrote:What is the concept of God in Theravadin?
Take a look at this:
Susan Elbaum Jootla wrote:The Buddha explains that when our world system disintegrates, as it regularly does after extremely long periods of time, the lower sixteen planes are all destroyed. Beings disappear from all planes below the seventeenth, the plane of the Abhassara gods. Whatever beings cannot be born on the seventeenth or a higher brahma plane then must take birth on the lower planes in other remote world systems.

Eventually the world starts to re-form. Then a solitary being passes away from the Abhassara plane and takes rebirth on the plane of Maha Brahma. A palace created by his kamma awaits him there: "There he dwells, mind-made, feeding on rapture, self-luminous, moving through the air, abiding in glory. And he continues thus for a long, long time." After ages pass, he becomes lonely and longs for other beings to join him. It just so happens that shortly after the brahma starts craving for company, other beings from the Abhassara plane, who have exhausted their lifespans there, pass away and are reborn in the palace of Brahma, in companionship with him.

Because these beings seemed to arise in accordance with the first brahma's wish, he becomes convinced that he is the almighty God: "I am the Great Brahma, the Vanquisher... the Lord, the Maker and Creator, the Supreme Being." The other brahmas, seeing that he was already present when they took birth in his world, accept his claim and revere him as their creator.

Eventually this misconception of a Creator God spreads to the human plane. One of the other brahmas passes away and is reborn here. He develops concentration and learns to recollect his previous life with Maha Brahma, but none of his lives before that. Recollecting that existence he recalls that Maha Brahma was considered the "father of all that are and are to be... permanent, stable, eternal." As he is unable to remember further back, he believes this to be absolute truth and propounds a theistic doctrine of an omnipotent Creator God.
Thanks Jechbi. :smile:

Yes, this is the Theravada understanding from the Buddha's teachings.

metta
Chris
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Re: Who is GOD in Buddhism?

Post by Ben » Tue Jun 23, 2009 10:28 pm

Hi Winny

I hope you did well in your final exams. I think you answered well. However, I am a little disheartened by the actions of your teacher - it would amount to religious discrimination in Australia and punishable by law.
Over the last week I have been thinking about how some people feel that they can mock the Buddha and Buddhism but the same people don't have the courage to mock Mohammad or Islam. But I think that it is our equanimity that is our strength.
Take care

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

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Re: Who is GOD in Buddhism?

Post by retrofuturist » Tue Jun 23, 2009 11:00 pm

Greetings Ben,
Ben wrote:Over the last week I have been thinking about how some people feel that they can mock the Buddha and Buddhism but the same people don't have the courage to mock Mohammad or Islam. But I think that it is our equanimity that is our strength.
I think it's the perception that we're less likely to launch a jihad against them. 8-)

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: Who is GOD in Buddhism?

Post by jcsuperstar » Wed Jun 24, 2009 8:29 am

most non buddhists ive met seem to think we worship a fat happy guy... so :shrug:
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat

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Re: Who is GOD in Buddhism?

Post by Kare » Wed Jun 24, 2009 1:08 pm

Winny wrote:Hi guys, I've just graduated from a Christian high school. In my school, there are 15% of Buddhist students. All of the students must learn the religion lesson for 3 years, which in the end, we had to do the final test. In that test, the teacher asked me: Do you fear of God?
That was a tricky question for me, because I don't believe in God. It's sad to say, but the teacher also mocked Buddhism, when I said Buddhism doesn't teach to fear of God. Am I wrong? So based on my answer, I might got a bad score. :cry: Sometimes I could hardly explain what is 'God' in Buddhism to my friends. And actually, I don't even know whether we have a God. What is the concept of God in Theravadin? So, please explain to me. :thanks:
You have already got several good answers here. If you want to go deeper into this question, I would like to recommend two excellent books:

The first is Helmuth von Glasenapp, "Buddhism - A Non-Theistic Religion", which mainly discusses how Buddhism relates to the Indian gods at the time of the Buddha and later.

The second book is Gunapala Dharmasiri, "A Buddhist Critique of the Christian Concept of God", which, as the title implies, discusses how Buddhism relates to Christian concepts of God.

Both books are a little old, and you probably won't find them in you nearest bookshop. But a library, or a search on the internet, should be able to get them for you.
Mettāya,
Kåre

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Re: Who is GOD in Buddhism?

Post by Individual » Wed Jun 24, 2009 10:37 pm

Winny wrote:Hi guys, I've just graduated from a Christian high school. In my school, there are 15% of Buddhist students. All of the students must learn the religion lesson for 3 years, which in the end, we had to do the final test. In that test, the teacher asked me: Do you fear of God?
That was a tricky question for me, because I don't believe in God. It's sad to say, but the teacher also mocked Buddhism, when I said Buddhism doesn't teach to fear of God. Am I wrong? So based on my answer, I might got a bad score. :cry: Sometimes I could hardly explain what is 'God' in Buddhism to my friends. And actually, I don't even know whether we have a God. What is the concept of God in Theravadin? So, please explain to me. :thanks:
God is a figment of various imaginations, which can only bring comfort when coupled with wholesome states of mind.
The best things in life aren't things.

The Diamond Sutra

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Re: Who is GOD in Buddhism?

Post by DNS » Thu Jun 25, 2009 4:10 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Ben,
Ben wrote:Over the last week I have been thinking about how some people feel that they can mock the Buddha and Buddhism but the same people don't have the courage to mock Mohammad or Islam. But I think that it is our equanimity that is our strength.
I think it's the perception that we're less likely to launch a jihad against them. 8-)
Speaking of that, there is a pretty good talk by Bhikkhu Bodhi on tolerance and the cartoons of Muhammad and I posted/embedded it over here as a sample of how to embed a video:

http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 519#p21519" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Ben
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Re: Who is GOD in Buddhism?

Post by Ben » Thu Jun 25, 2009 11:53 am

TheDhamma wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Ben,
Ben wrote:Over the last week I have been thinking about how some people feel that they can mock the Buddha and Buddhism but the same people don't have the courage to mock Mohammad or Islam. But I think that it is our equanimity that is our strength.
I think it's the perception that we're less likely to launch a jihad against them. 8-)
Speaking of that, there is a pretty good talk by Bhikkhu Bodhi on tolerance and the cartoons of Muhammad and I posted/embedded it over here as a sample of how to embed a video:

http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 519#p21519" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Thanks David
Rather than take this thread further off-topic, I'm going to start another thread on the topic of respect for the triple gem
Kind regards

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com..

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dragonwarrior
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Re: Who is GOD in Buddhism?

Post by dragonwarrior » Fri Jun 26, 2009 7:34 am

:clap: :clap: :thumbsup:
Thanks a bunch for answering.. It seems so clear now.
Btw, non-Buddhists in Indonesia really got the wrong perceptions about Buddhism..
They think we are worshiping the Buddha Statue. Gosh :cookoo:
Some of them even think The Buddha is The God..
Anyway, I got 85 for the Christian lesson in the report card. haha pretty shocking coz I thought I might get worse..
Even though the teacher is a very fanatic person, but the new principal is a very tolerant person. :bow:

:namaste:

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